Designing with SEO in mind

It seems to be a consistent trend when a new client meets with us, telling us about their incredible website which they’ve paid (sometimes) thousands of dollars to have it built for them, only for us to turn around and tell them plainly “I’m sorry, but this is terrible to work with”.

Having a flair for style is a great thing when it comes to being a designer, but there are some key points which designers should always bear in mind when constructing a new website, whether for themselves, or for a client. It’s time, I think, to cover just the bear minimum of basics for all of you web designers out there.

1. Title and Meta tags

Important to your site, as a note, don’t try and wedge all of your keywords into these places, it can just get you a mark for trying to be overly spammy. Too many marks, and your website can actually start working against you.

2. Avoid frames, keep flash and java to a minimum

Frames are a no-no code wise for a great long time now, it’s sloppy, looks terribly unprofessional, and best to be avoided completetly.

Flash and Java, while they can add some neat tricks or interesting effects to your site, don’t make a lick of sense to Google.

3. Alt attributes

It’s simple, as with Flash and (some) Java : spiders can’t see pictures. the “alt” tag is there for you tell the spiders what it’s looking at.

4. Use clean, valid mark up.

Make your HTML clean and simple – don’t use tables or use lots of unnecessary DIVs. This will improve your load time which is great for visitors and also make it easier for search engines to crawl and find your page’s content.

5. Make use of header tags

Think of header tags like chapter titles within a book, makes it easy to navigate the index of pages contained within.

6. Try descriptive link text

Linking your website together just makes the navigation better, period, for both bots/spiders and a user experience. Try to avoid things like “click here” and the like.

7. Help bots crawl your site

Bots/spiders are pretty good at navigating your site, but just like having an index or table of contents to a book, it’s helpful to have the same in place for your website. A well formed footer, or sitemap only helps our job as SEO’s when you come to us to assist your rankings online.

All of the above tips, are very basic tips that all web designers should already know and bear in mind when constructing a website. But it is always a good idea to brush up on the fundamentals. Because often times, designers can’t see a forest for the trees.